Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bear sign

Sneaky bear ... what were you after? And was it really necessary to leave a huge pile of your ... ahem ... leftovers on our lawn?

We have our birdfeeders so well protected that the bears haven't been able to reach them, which is good for our feeders but really limits our bear sightings for the most part. They're still coming through the yard, to be sure, but they're so silent about it most of the time, we don't ever know it. This planter was knocked over in the middle of the night, though, so we heard him. But didn't see him. Too sleepy to hop to the window for a peek.

The Huz walked up our driveway the other day and decided to detour into the front yard to check the veggie garden and spotted a big bear streaking away into the woods, spooked. I'd been upstairs working the whole time and never knew he was out there.

I miss seeing them, but really this is the way it's supposed to be. No bird feeder depradation, no bear interactions ... it's what's best for them and for us. I guess I'll be a grownup about it. Sigh.

Pictures of local black bears in our yard in previous years

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm a Miracle Worker!


... or, a little more accurately and a lot more humbly, I've gotten a role in the classic play The Miracle Worker! As Helen Keller's mother. It's not the lead, to be sure, but the lead needs someone who looks like she's twenty, and they found someone MUCH closer to that age to play Annie Sullivan. But Kate, Helen's mom, is a complex character and on stage a great deal of the time, and I'm delighted at the opportunity.

I don't mind not being the lead as long as I'm not spending most of the night backstage, twiddling my thumbs and waiting to go on. It's not a comfortable sort of waiting for me. If I relax too much, I risk not getting on stage on time or falling so far out of character that my acting suffers. If I keep my energies / nerves too revved up, I'm either hyper or exhausted when I finally do get on stage. Best to just be on stage, in character, all night long, as far as I'm concerned!

I also have signed up for a weekend-long acting workshop in mid-June, and am currently reading the text book, "The Power of an Actor" by Ivana Chubbuck. Good stuff. She has twelve steps (doesn't everybody?) that you apply as you prepare for a role, and while I'm waiting to learn what scene I'll be applying them to for the purposes of the workshop (I know it will be from "The Secret of My Success" but I haven't gotten the script yet), I've been trying to analyze the MW role. It's a whole new way to approach acting for me; up till now it's been pretty much acting by instinct ... and that only gets you so far. I feel like I'm stretching my acting muscles and so far it feels pretty good!

Anyway, the show goes up late July, rehearsals don't start till about 5 weeks beforehand. And more good news, friend Betsy has accepted a small role in the play, so we can commute to rehearsals together! Betsy is famous for being a scene-saver. If someone "goes up on" (forgets) their lines, Betsy is so quick-witted that she'll figure out a way to help them get back on track. An extremely valuable person to have around! We acted together in my first acting experience two years ago ... look for pictures of Nurse Ilsa here.

Train station memories

When you head out on a trip like our 3-weeker across the country, you have no idea what you're going to see and what's going to strike you as memorable. One thing that surprised me was the absolute elegance of some of the old train stations that we saw as we went along. We also saw a few that were plain and serviceable. One, the Salt Lake City train station, was a complete disgrace to the city so there will be no pictures of that here! But many were so beautiful that I found myself snapping picture after picture of the details.

Below are some of my favorites.

Above left: The Huz and his sister brazenly defying the "No Loitering" sign at our starting point, the train station in New London, Connecticut. Right: an unusual bay window at the station, and a view past the train tracks to the ocean just beneath it.

As noted in a previous post, Seattle's King Street Station (above) is absolutely stunning inside. It is being restored to its 1906 glory, full of marble and ornamentation. The architects were part of the team that designed Grand Central station, a gorgeous building if ever there was one, but this one is a small-scale rival.

The photos above show restored sections. Below is a shot of the beautiful ceiling that's been hidden for years behind an ugly drop ceiling. Restoration work started in 2003 and continues today. It will be quite a sight when it's all finished!
I took some very fun shots of Denver's Union Station, but do you think I can find them? The two highlights of the station for me (besides the absolutely crack-up train station attendant who complained that I was keeping him awake when I "hallo"ed to get him to come to the window) were the fabulous tall-backed benches with built-in reading lights running the length over your head (see a picture here), and a retro sign on the outside of the station that urged, "Travel by Train". You can see a picture of it here.

Update! Found my photos! A couple of shots of the gorgeous exterior, one of the Huz lingering anonymously on those fabulous benches, and a beautiful hallway that you walk through from the train into the station proper.

And, of course, there's Chicago's Union Station, the granddaddy of all train stations west of New York.
The beauty of this station just cannot be overstated, although there's a tacky new section that's not so cool. But you can get any kind of food you want here, there's a whole section that's like a shopping mall, and just look at this staircase (below left) and great hall (below right). Fabulous.
180px-Chicago_Union_Station_grand_staircase 180px-Union22